Support healthcare students now to end worker shortage


Healthcare students visit Columbus Community Hospital. Courtesy of Peggy Abels

Healthcare workers are the ones powering through 10-12 hour shifts — sometimes longer. They’re the ones who carry the burdens of patients on their aching backs and feet. They study countless hours for years to help people in their worst moments. 

This edition of The Antelope is for them. 

If we want healthcare workers to thrive, we should support them while they in school. 

UNK has taken great steps to achieve this goal. 

An important milestone was securing the $60 million in funding within the 38th section of legislative bill 1014. One-sixth of this amount will be used for start-up costs and the rest will be used for the second healthcare sciences facility. 

We hope the 10-year build-up will put a dent in the shortage of nurses. 

The worker shortage is old news, but why is it so hard to find nurses?

The U.S. World and News Report points to factors, such as baby boomers who are retiring, a lack of trained workers and burnt-out employees. 

It’s important to acknowledge the worker shortage was not limited to health care. We predict the enrollment crisis and low birth rates will also impact the number of nurses .

The Nebraska Hospital Association refers to the problem in their Nursing Shortage Work Group Report. The report predicts that Nebraska will experience a shortage of approximately 5,435 nurses by 2025. 

This will not be a quick fix, but we can start by encouraging our peers. 

A fine arts student’s workload is different from a science student’s workload. Be more understanding when your pre-cardiovascular perfusion friend cannot hang out on Thursday nights. Instead, bring them a treat from Sonic while they study for that Friday quiz. 

Rural initiatives will hopefully increase the number of professionals helping the clusters of Nebraska towns. Although these programs are not a necessity for success, they bring together a community of people with the same goals .

Healthcare employers are realizing the need to rally around the mental health needs of professionals. Even doctors need someone to take care of them sometimes. 

It takes years of experience and thousands of dollars to move forward in the medical field. The hours are weird, hospitals are understaffed and workplace violence from patients is common. 

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, 60% of incidents at the Bryan Health Institute were reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 2022. There’s a reason why Great Plains Health in North Platte has bulletproof doors and windows.  

Why do people keep going into this field? They normally share one thing in common — a strong desire to help others. This is a quality that students in all majors could develop.